Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Is it wrong to have a personal agenda for prayer? How does one balance moving beyond guilt because of the freedom of God's forgiveness when past sins have brought on consequences that serve as a constant reminder?

There is no way to have a personal or hidden agenda in prayer because nothing is hidden from God. Even if you were praying for a particular event or situation to occur in a certain manner, do you not think God already knows your agenda? He may still give you your heart's desire, but without His blessing, it will never quite meet your expectations. Actually, you may even begin to think that you may have somehow outsmarted God and become prideful of your manipulation. God does not operate in that way. He knows our intentions and our deepest thoughts, even before they are apparent to us. In reality, you are sending a message to God that you are not in need of His will and desire for what is best for you, but all that you are requesting is that He intervenes on your behalf to perform your desire and then step out of the picture until you need Him again. We not only need to be truthful with God, but with each other, and especially with ourselves. The error in presuming to pray for a personal (hidden) agenda is that you are purposely excluding an important part of not only a prayer, or your prayer, but the Lord's Prayer, which says, "THY WILL BE DONE," and replacing it with, "my will be done". Having said that, when you pray, reveal your honest request, and ask the Lord to give you wisdom and peace in accepting the result according His will. This is the best way to pray.


Psalm 50 in the Agpeya (Psalm 51 in many Holy Bible versions) is a reminder of the remedy of sins. Here the prophet David is agonized by his grievous sins and is trying to reconcile his thoughts of God's mercy and forgiveness to his overwhelming need to repent for having offended God. Yet, the prophet never gives up hope. He proclaims that God is just and blameless in administering any punishment as a consequence to his own offenses and remains humbled by God's mercy and still confident that he is indeed forgiven. David the prophet was mainly torn by having offended God, not necessarily only the act of a particular sin. The Psalmist sways back and forth from begging for forgiveness to acknowledging God's forgiveness, asking for a renewed clean heart, restoration, and an opportunity to serve Him. Finally, David the prophet admits that what God really desires is a contrite heart, and that it is the only sacrifice that is truly pleasing to God.

Therefore, when we remember our sins, we must not stop there, because that is where you find guilt. It is when we remember God's forgiveness and most tender mercies during our weakest times that we often break down and cry for we know the price He paid for our forgiveness and the extent of which He drew us out of the mess of sins in which we chose to throw ourselves. Do we realize that during our transgressions, His love never wavered for us and still yet He remained ever so close to us while we cleverly executed every sin? If and when you remember your former sins, you must also remember God's infinite mercies and forgiveness and patience and love. Your tears may flow, but these will be tears of joy and love and acceptance rather than tears of sorrow and guilt and shame.

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